C5- Short-term exchanges of groups of pupils
Topic: Role of Public Media
Leading School: Virtain Lukio, Virrat - Finland
Date: 27 - 31 January 2020
The first day of the Virrat study meeting, Mon 27th was spent in Marttinen Youth Center. The center has good facilities for housing large youth groups, and beautiful grounds with old wooden buildings. The Mayor of Virrat, Mr Juha Viitasaari, and the Virrat High School headteacher, Ms Katri Rantala, opened the meeting with a few words of welcome to the guests. Then followed an hour of ice breaker activities for the visiting and hosting students while the visiting teachers were introduced to the Marttinen area, its history and current functioning. The unusually mild and snowless winter weather in the area of Virrat had turned a couple of days before the meeting, and the visitors were able to enjoy snow games during the breaks in the courtyard.
After lunch, the afternoon was dedicated to a three-hour presentation and workshop by Hilma Toivonen and Vilma Rimpeläinen of the RaRe media company from Tampere. They started by telling their inspiring story of a group of five young media professionals in their 20s founding a media cooperative with the aim of producing journalism that is accessible for young people and where they can get their voices heard. Their main platform has so far been Instagram. In October 2019 this cooperative won the Helsingin Sanomat Uutisraivaaja prize of 250 000 euros for their innovative ideas. The presentation was followed by a workshop where the participants produced Instagram stories on the themes of truth and entertainment in journalism, the voices that get and don’t get heard in journalism, and the possibilities that new technologies create.
Tuesday 28th was dedicated to pedagogy and teaching methods in a Finnish high school, and the wonders of Finnish nature. The students and visiting teachers were divided into three groups that rotated between classrooms where the Music, English and Mathematics teachers of Virrat high school gave 30-minute demonstrations of how they teach their subjects, and with what kinds of materials. In the afternoon, the 51 participants made a four-hour trip to the Ähtäri wildlife park by coach. With the two expert guides hired for the occasion, they discovered the native fauna of Central Finland in its natural habitat.
Wed, Jan 29th: Activities in Tampere
Two main events of the day were visits to Mediapolis and the Moomin Museum. Students and teachers toured in two groups.Mediapolis accommodates both Yleisradio studios (Finnish national public service media company) and the media department of Tampere University of Applied Sciences (TAMK). First, a student and a counsellor guided a tour around the facilities in TAMK media department and gave a presentation about different branches of media studies, both in international and Finnish study programs. This gave a brief glimpse of the seemingly endless amount of professions and areas of expertise in the media sector.At Yle we were given a guided tour through the television studios; we got to see for instance a children’s programme set, control room for live broadcasts, makeup studio and scenery storage. At the Moomin museum, we had a guided tour in the exhibition, and an animation workshop. Students made short stop motion animations in small groups.
Thu, Jan 30th: Journalism workshop and winter sports The day started early, as a reporter from Yle regional news arrived to broadcast live on the morning show. Two Finnish Erasmus students and one teacher were interviewed on-air about the Erasmus event and how it effects young peoples’ lives. (The audio clips cannot be published on the project’s website due to technical and copyright reasons.) Also, other students and teachers had a chance to see the broadcasting van and try some reporters equipment.
The morning continued with a short lecture. A journalism student presented his viewpoint on media culture, journalist’s ethics, reporter’s versatile tasks and fields of action, and the new challenges and possibilities social media has brought to the news industry.
After this the Yle reported continued with a presentation on Yle’s activities, with focus on producing news. She told about her own work, making mostly human interest stories in the morning show around the Pirkanmaa region. A discussion arose for instance about how reporters check information backgrounds in news production.
Students were asked to brainstorm about news topics, from local to global, which would interest them. In the debriefing, students brought up especially taboo topics, related for example to crime and sexuality.
After lunch, the whole high school joined Erasmus students in winter sports. The most popular activities were downhill skiing, sledging and ice skating. A skiing instructor was teaching the basics to newcomers.
On Friday, 31st January, students were asked to present the results of the week activities. During the afternoon the Finnish team of students organized a farewell party.
The groups departed on Saturday 1st February. It was very emotional to say goodbye. Families and students were very pleased with the experience. After everyone returned to their home countries, an evaluation questionnaire was shared with the students to collect feedback of the meeting.